TY TABOR OF KING'S X INTERVIEW
Recorded October 2,
Recorded October 2, 2001
Chris McKay: So what are you up to?
Ty Tabor: Well, I'm currently mixing an album for another project I'm involved in called Jughead. It's made up of me on guitar and vocals, Matt Bissonette on bass and vocals, Gregg Bissonette on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards. It's scheduled to be out sometime around March of next year I think.
CM: Is this a continuation of Platypus?
No, this is totally unrelated. This is a pop Foo Fighters kind of record. It's real
TT: No, this is totally unrelated. This is a pop Foo Fighters kind of record. It's real Beatles influenced.
CM: As far as King's X goes, you're ten albums in now and it's the 21st century. What keeps you together and moving ahead?
TT: Uh...I don't know! I guess we need to pay the bills. (laughs)
CM: So is that what it's kind of about now, is it more of a way of making a living?
TT: That's one thing that people find out real quick if they try to let music be their only job is that it's not about that. For us, we play together still 'cause we still enjoy playing together.
CM: So that drive is still there from the beginning?
TT: Yeah, I mean we still get pumped up about writing new music and touring and the whole thing.
CM: Is the approach different now, especially with all of your side projects as outlets, than it was in the beginning?
TT: Well the main thing we're doing (differently) is we're writing everything from scratch together instead of bringing in individual demos. That would probably be the major difference these days, but philosophically, as far as the overall approach, nothing's really changed. The sound has, the times have changed and we've changed as people but we still go in with a blank slate and say let's just let happen whatever happens and we'll keep it, you know?
CM: Is that the way it was in the beginning, too?
TT: Yeah, we've always done that.
CM: So do you look at the side projects
as a way to keep it fresh or do you approach the side projects perhaps like you approached
the King's X records earlier?
CM: So do you look at the side projects as a way to keep it fresh or do you approach the side projects perhaps like you approached the King's X records earlier?
TT: I don't really...I don't know if I'd really analyze it as side projects as much as different opportunities to get to play with different people and try different things. So I always just look at it as a plus to just get to do that...to stretch out and be in a situation that forces you to think differently and play differently. I guess in a lot of ways it does make it fresh when we come back to King's X.
CM: The reason I'm asking is because since I've had the interview scheduled I've been checking out King's X message boards online and I've read some criticisms there from people claiming that it's lessening the quality of the group effort and I wanted to know what you thought about that.
TT: Well, I think they're entitled to their opinion, but from our end that's certainly a falsehood. We knew before we ever released the new album that there were going to be reactions like that about it because of how different it is and how simplified it is. It has nothing to do with effort. It has to do with what we wanted to do. It's just that simple. I mean, when we did our Dogman album, we had a very similar reaction because it wasn't like the first four albums and a lot of people thought it was a lot more straight ahead, dumbed down and not as well thought out and all that at first. Now it's probably the best selling album we've ever had. And the thing is, people attach themselves to a form of King's X like the Bulbous album or whatever and when the next album isn't Bulbous again, it's a let down for them, but we just don't make the same album twice.
CM: Which is cool to the fans that are into following the development and the growth as opposed to hearing "Black Flag" fourteen different ways.
TT: Well, everybody's entitled to their opinion and I sure do appreciate (them). Like I said, I knew that a lot of people were going to have a negative reaction to this album at first. I also knew that the longer they lived with it that they would change their minds. In general, that has definitely proven itself out.
CM: I haven't actually heard the new
record so explain it to me. What should I expect? It's obviously different. You insinuated
that it's more stripped down.
CM: I haven't actually heard the new record so explain it to me. What should I expect? It's obviously different. You insinuated that it's more stripped down.
TT: I'm the last person on Earth that's going to give you that answer (laughs). I mean, I can only give you general things. We were going for whatever we felt at the moment (laughs) which is something very different right now than before, but it's like trying to describe a steak to someone who's never had one. There's no possible way to put in words anything that's going to actually make them realize what it tastes like.
CM: Well, I've heard some comparisons to Ear Candy.
TT: Um, I don't see it, but you know everybody has an opinion.
CM: And I've seen some things about some loops.
TT: Yeah, there are some loops involved. That's what a lot of people are reacting to as a matter of fact. It just gives it more of a mechanical groove in a lot of ways. You know what I mean? I think that a lot of people are reacting to that. What the deal was with us is we we're just trying to create new grooves to play to that were different to play to than what we'd done before.
CM: That makes sense if you're starting from the basics in the studio when you're rehearsing and building up from that. What better way to start looking for fresh ideas than to go to a loop or something?
TT: Yeah, and it's...I mean it's just a different record. I really don't know how to explain it. You would have to hear it and you would have to hear it more than once and that's just the truth of it. It's not an immediate album.
CM: Hopefully between now and deadline, I'll have a chance to dig into it.
TT: I hope so.
CM: It does appear over the past three or four records, maybe even since Dogman that from the photos to the press kits all the way to your arrangements, harmonies and the production that you've pulled things back little by little. It's like a gradual stripping down. Has there been a conscious effort to do that or is it just part of the evolution?
TT: I don't think we really think about it at all. We just go with the flow. I think the times have changed and what we like has changed. You know, if I listen to King's X older albums, if they were released right now they'd probably be a laughing stock as far as the type of production. It just doesn't fit with the real world today at all. I think it's just a matter of, it's just as simple as we do whatever we feel (laughs) at the moment and, you know, times change, we change, we get older or whatever and that all comes out in a different way. I think since Dogman in particular, every album has been entirely different from the one before. By the fourth album, I was feeling like we were making the same album over and over. I think we did enough of those, you know what I mean? There are four albums there to listen to if anyone prefers that sound, but we, personally, just couldn't keep making the same album with the same production and everything. Each album since then has been a total departure from one to the next.
CM: Which is cool, but even Moonflower Lane (Ty's solo record) has more of the feel of some of Faith Hope Love or Gretchen Goes To Nebraska. Would you agree with that?
TT: Well, it's not for me to agree. If that's what you get out of it, that's what you get out of it.
CM: I think it's more in the harmonies and the arrangements and maybe even the lyrical content. Were you writing more lyrics on the early King's X records?
TT: Yeah, I was writing a lot more lyrics. I wrote about half of the songs that we did and a lot of the songs that Doug sang were my songs. As a matter of fact, I always hand my songs over to Doug first and say "see if you feel this to sing it" and if he didn't, I would sing it as a last resort. In general, he sang most of everything I wrote in all the early days.
CM: Has it always been your preference to not sing?
TT: Yeah, pretty much. I always try to get away with singing as little as possible. I've never been comfortable as a singer. I mean, I don't really think of myself as a singer at all. As a matter of fact, that's something I have to struggle to do. I hate singing.
CM: What do you not like about it?
TT: My voice on tape. I can't stand my voice. I always wished I could sing like someone else.
CM: Certainly you realize the value even in the songs that Doug sings of the harmonies that you add and how vital that is to the King's X sound.
TT: You know, I do harmonies and I don't really have a problem doing harmonies but I just don't like lead singing very much.
CM: Anyway, here's something else. For the show, after ten albums, how in the world do you choose what songs you're going to do on tour when you've got fifteen songs in a set and hundreds of choices?
TT: Well, this time we got together and said, "What are the songs that we just always do every tour?" And whatever they are, we just marked them off the list right away. We're tired of doing the same old crap live.
CM: So "Over My Head" is out of there?
TT: It's out.
TT: It's out. We've played those songs ten thousand times. On every tour people have heard those songs, every single tour. Like you said, we have a lot of albums now and a lot of other music we'd like to play and we've decided to do that on this tour. We're doing a lot more obscure tunes on this tour, but stuff that I think we'll have more fun playing hopefully.
CM: Are you visiting the obscure corners all the way back through the King's X catalog?
TT: Yeah, all the way from all of them.
CM: That's really cool. So what songs are you just really sick of now since you brought this up?
TT: I think, you know, if we don't ever do "Goldilox" again, it's fine. Even though I wrote the song. It's a song that people really love for us to do, but you know, we've done it (laughs) a billion times so we're moving it over to next phase.
CM: Yeah, and you're audience is predominantly diehards and they've seen you several times and while I'm sure some people will complain, I'm sure you'll also have a lot of people that are impressed by your moving on.
TT: You know, their aren't really that many songs that I'm just sick of playing as much as it's become a thing of there are other songs that are never being played that we'd rather do. We'd like to keep fresh what we're doing and not let it become something we've done ten thousand times. It's hard to conjure up feeling after that many times. There will be a couple of things in there that we usually do but for the most part, we're just branching into other songs that we like of our own, you know what I mean (laughs) and we might just have fun playing different stuff. The truth is, I don't think any of the songs I can say I'm sick of.
CM: Are there any that don't really represent where you are now?
TT: Well, there's a lot of them that don't represent where we are and that's kind of more the issue sometimes.
CM: Yeah, some of the things that Doug has said in the press (his coming out as gay and questioning the existence of God) made it not seem appropriate to open with "King" (an overtly Christian song from the first album) anymore.
CM: I was wondering what was going on with that especially knowing how long King's X has been fighting against being labeled as a "Christian" band.
TT: To be honest with you, we think about it less than others. I don't even let it bother my life. Unless you had brought it up, it's not a thought that would've crossed my mind today in my life. You know what I mean?
CM: Well, with some of the songs, if you're playing them every night, I guess you wouldn't tend to think about how far your life has changed or evolved from when the song was written and whether or not the songs are still relevant to who you each are now.
TT: We just think of them as songs, songs that are our songs. I mean, all of them represent true periods of time and there's nothing dishonest about doing any of them. It's just, sometimes we feel like we're doing the same tour over and over with the infusion of two or three songs from the new album, you know what I mean? At that point, it's time to make a change so that you could care about what you're doing a little better. It's not really a matter of hating the songs or anything. It's just a matter of anything you do in repetition you start to get numb to.
CM: Right, and keeping it exciting for you is a lot more likely to make it exciting for the audience as well.
TT: I hope so. I hope so. That's the idea anyway.
CM: How big of a pool of songs do you actually work up for a tour, 'cause I've seen you twice on the same tour before and had the sets be almost completely different.
TT: We usually work up about two hours worth of stuff and we do about an hour and a half set.
CM: So really there's not that much extra on any given night.
TT: Yeah, I mean, there's really no reason to learn three hours worth of music if you're only doing an hour and a half show, but having about thirty minutes of extra stuff is enough to infuse change into the show from here to there, you know what I mean, to keep it interesting if you're playing a couple of shows real close together to the same area or whatever.
CM: Do you feel like that over the length of your career that King's X has been under appreciated?
TT: I think we've probably been appreciated whatever we should be appreciated.
CM: Are you just being humble? Seriously, to some degree that even your guitar tone was a huge influence and part of the foundation of the grunge sound and it's a logical argument.
TT: Well, it was and it is being credited for being so by people in the grunge movement. So what else do I want from it? You know what I mean? I mean, the guys in Pearl Jam give credit. Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden and Alice in Chains and all of them have made kind comments here and there about our influence on the Seattle scene. So, you know, I feel that they've given credit more so than I wouldve ever hoped for.
CM: So you're completely satisfied with your place in music.
TT: I'm honored with our place in music. I'm totally honored with our place in music. I think we got whatever we should've gotten out of it. I don't think King's X is a mass appeal band. I don't think it ever will be or ever could be personally.
CM: Well, now, probably not because you have taken a more personal approach. You seem to be doing it more for yourselves.
TT: We've always done it for ourselves.
CM: Yeah, but it appears that back then you were trying harder, you know what I mean, for some kind of acceptance or doing what you thought people wanted you to do.
TT: I don't know about that.
CM: And now it really does seem like you're doing it for your own entertainment and in the hopes that will entertain the people that come to see you play.
TT: Well, to put it in perspective, think about Out Of The Silent Planet. It was the year 1988. Think about how that album had nothing whatsoever to do with anything in the industry in any way that was happening at the time. So I would say just the opposite of what you're saying if anything.
CM: You think so, because by the time of Faith Hope Love, there was a huge movement. There were bands like Living Colour and even Faith No More and Soundgarden that were pushing different sides of the same envelope that you were.
TT: But that had nothing to do with us. We were still just being ourselves and when we started out being ourselves it had nothing to do with the industry in any way with what was going on out there. You know what I'm saying?
CM: I know what you're saying.
TT: Just because some other people tagged along and kind of were influenced by us and suddenly there was a genre starting, it had nothing to do with us at all and our trying to be them or that. It was the opposite.
CM: So how did Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots producer given credit for being one of the architects of the grunge sound) wind up working with you for ?
TT: He asked to. We were very honored that he wanted to and he happened to be one of my favorite producers on Earth. So at the time, to have Brendan O'Brien ask to do your album, we were very proud to get to work with him and learn from him.
CM: I remember when Collective Soul first put out their breakthrough hit "Shine" it really sounded like King's X.
CM: So you agree with that.
CM: Even the lyrical content, the whole vibe of the thing just made me say, you know, it's a pretty cool song, but it's a King's X song.
TT: Right, but even with all that going on you have to remember that King's X was not a follower of ourselves. We were just being ourselves and other people started sounding like us all of a sudden. After about four albums, we got tired of the sound (laughs) and moved on, you know what I mean?
CM: We were talking about these people stealing from you. Who have you stolen from over the years?
TT: Well, The Beatles were a huge influence and the early, original Alice Cooper band was a huge influence and the Ziggy Stardust era of Bowie was a big influence and a whole lot of early '70s rock to mid-'70s rock.
CM: Was the progressive side of '70s rock more interesting to you?
TT: Well, I had a couple of Emerson, Lake and Palmer albums and things of that nature but they were never my favorite things to listen to.
CM: So you were more into Alice?
TT: Yeah, way more into Alice. That was the most brilliant magic ever captured on record with the band, you know. They were all hack players really but they made magic. Together as people there was just a chemistry and I've always been drawn more towards people's chemistry of the band than their ability to play. But then, on the other hand, I did listen to some progressive stuff and like it, but it was never my favorite kind of music. Rush had a big influence back at one point, but it was because I thought the songs were awesome. I loved where the songs went it wasn't a matter of just being technical stuff.
CM: So you were almost in the glam era and I guess KISS should've been right in there, too.
TT: Well, KISS was a big influence, too, yeah. Ace Frehley was a big influence on my guitar playing.
CM: I don't really think that shows.
TT: I think if you really know Ace's licks, it's undeniable 'cause I almost play his licks sometimes.
CM: Really? Do you have an example for me, so I can go digging through?
TT: Not any in particular. It's just that I do a blues based style that is exactly what he did.
CM: His is more staccato and yours is much more flowing, though.
TT: Yeah, there is a different personal style. You know, you always have your own take on it, but he was definitely a huge influence all in my playing (laughs).
CM: Is there anybody around now that inspires you?
TT: Believe it or not, most of the stuff that I listen to these days is stuff like Lit and Foo Fighters and those type of things. You know, just high-energy three-chord pop rock bands.
CM: Melodic Cheap Trick based kind of stuff.
TT: Yeah, that's what I've always been into most and what I've always enjoyed most. That's what even King's X did in the early days most. So that's a core element of what I like.
CM: You've still always managed to put the hooks and harmonies in there and that's the one thing that I think the grunge movement and some of these newer bands are missing.
TT: Well, they tapped into something that related to young people of that time at the moment. No longer was the enemy Big Brother or the government but was the hurt and pain of the betrayal of broken families. All of a sudden there was a generation that could connect on that and they just made it timely to what was real in the world right now. My hats are off to people that did something else with it that became new. They did something we weren't doing that was what people tapped into and wanted to hear.
CM: Do you think that, in turn, inspired King's X to become more personal with your lyrics? At first you were kind of guarded and the further you went along, unless you're completely brilliant at making thing up, the songs have gotten almost painfully personal over the past few records.
TT: I think it's just a matter of getting older. To me what happened was I realized some of my most favorite stuff that I love is like John Lennon lyrics that are intensely personal. I started realizing that it takes guts to put yourself out on a limb like that and say what you're really feeling. At the same time, it's like no guts, no glory. My favorite stuff is stuff that is really from the heart and I'd always been guarded about saying things in lyrics and stuff like that. Then I got a little older and realized that the things I'm drawn to, I'm not doing it for myself and that I should.
CM: I think, in the beginning, songs like "It's Love" were kind of cloaked. Then move ahead to the solo song "Had To Move" and it's...
TT: "Had To Move" was actually written before "It's Love" (laughs).
CM: That's funny, but the question is would you have released something that personal then for public consumption?
TT: You know, King's X worked up "Had To Move" around the first album, but it just wasn't clicking in our band. It wasn't a song working for us as a band so we canned it.
CM: So then, what you're saying is that as opposed to what some people are saying about you lessening the creative input in King's X, what you're actually doing is taking (for lack of a better term) some of the rejects from King's X and re-putting your spin back on them and re-personalizing them for yourself.
TT: Um, no, not really. We just...As far as "Had To Move" it just happened to be a song that I liked personally that didn't work for the band and that, when I had an opportunity to put it on something myself, i did just because I still liked it. We don't ever really analyze it the way everybody else does (laughs). It really is as dumbed down and simple as we just do whatever we feel with no rules whatsoever...period. When we get together, that is the only rule and that's how simple and about as far as the thought process goes.
CM: When VH-1 announced King's X as one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time, how did that feel?
TT: At first I felt silly that we were on the list.
CM: Did you not think you deserved it?
TT: I'm not the person to ask about anything to do with deserving.
CM: I'm not asking if the band deserves it. I asked if you didn't feel like you deserved it. I know you're not going to answer me anyway...
TT: Well, I never feel like we deserve anything as humans. I don't ever think in terms of deserving like, "Oh yeah, we really deserve that." That's the last thought that would ever come across my mind having to do with anything as far as praise or as far as me or our band. I never feel that we deserve anything. I don't think anybody deserves anything. I think we're just all lucky or blessed or whatever if something like that happens. I don't think it has to do with just deserving, 'cause there are a lot of tremendous talents out there that we'll never hear if you want to talk about deserving. In other words, any praise we get I'm thankful for and honored by, but I certainly don't feel that we deserve anything (laughs).
CM: Certainly you're proud of the accomplishment.
TT: I'm not saying I'm not happy with what we've done. I'll stand behind it and know that it's an honest representation of us at different times and that everything we do is the best we can do. I can say those things, yeah. I'm certainly not ashamed of what we do in any way, but deserving is a big word.
CM: I heard about five years ago that King's X was breaking up and a lot of the lyrics on Ear Candy seemed to hint at that. What kept you together?
TT: Basically, there's been a rumor being passed around ever since Dogman actually that we're breaking up. It comes out every year. I always can't wait to see where it's going to come from or who's going to write it first or whatever. It has nothing to do with us and it's certainly not us going out and saying that kind of thing.
CM: So you never said that?
TT: No. Absolutely not.
CM: I heard it around Ear Candy, which turned out to be your last new record for Atlantic and that this impending breakup had to do with the contract.
TT: We did tell Atlantic that if they didn't drop us off the label we were going to split up.
CM: Then, there you go.
TT: But that's a different thing than us wanting to break up the band. You know what I mean? It was a matter of "We've got to be off your label or there is no next album." It's just that simple.
CM: Why was that?
TT: Because they were killing us. I mean, we were very successful on a small label and then we went to Atlantic from a small label where we had a small team of people working really working their butts off. Atlantic is not a band builder. For us, they bought us from our previous label and we had nothing to do with it. All of a sudden we got a phone call and we were on Atlantic Records. We thought, hooray, we're on a big label. It only took a very short time to realize that it was something that could end the career of our band because Atlantic didn't do the things the other label did to try to build the career. They were more a "just throw it out there and see what happens" kind of a label. We realized at a certain point, because they kept telling us, "You need to write us a hit," and all this kind of stuff and that has never been anything that we got into this for. We realized at one point that we couldn't work with Atlantic Records period. It was a matter of I would rather have a nine to five job here and at least have my family than work with Atlantic Records. I called our manager and said, "You absolutely have to get us off this label or it's the end of the band." We didn't want the band to end, but it was just a matter of we had to get out of that situation.
CM: Did that pressure affect your writing or creativity or did you manage to ignore that heat?
TT: For the most part, we ignored it, but the pressure from it we didn't want to have to deal with. We would turn in twenty songs or whatever for an album and all of a sudden they'd be like, we want to hear more. We'd be like, this is what we're doing. Do you understand? This is what we want to do and if it's not working, get rid of us so we can at least be happy. It was that type of a fight and we didn't want to be in that type of a situation. So the next label we signed with, the very first thing we told them was "The only way we'll sign with anybody is if they let us do exactly what we want to do just like we always have without a single word about it. If that's not the deal, we don't want to talk." The only labels we talked to were labels that agreed to that first and foremost and we ended up back in a situation where we could go back to business as usual just doing it the way we always did and not have to worry about what the label thought.
CM: Around the time of Tape Head, I read an interview where you said that you felt like that was the first real King's X album. Do you still feel that way?
TT: Well, it was the first one where we all really wrote everything pretty much from the ground up together. So it was the first one that represented the three of us as a band.
CM: As opposed to what?
TT: As opposed to the other things being just personal demos (being worked up by the band).
CM: I'm assuming you've kept on with that up through the new album.
TT: Yeah, that's the way we're doing things now. It doesn't mean we'll always do it that way or whatever, but that's where we're at right now.
CM: How does King's X know when "The Train" so to say has run it's course?
TT: I'm not sure. Well, I think right now the way we look at it is as long as the opportunity to still make records together is there and somebody wants us to do it, we certainly want to do it. We enjoy making records together so as long as the opportunity's there and as long as people keep coming to shows, we want to keep doing it. The truth is that with the upcoming tour, the pre-sales are better than any tour in the history of the band and two tours ago was the biggest tour in the history of the band and this was when we had no radio support whatsoever, no nothing and we had more sellouts across the world than we've ever had before. So in some weird way, our career is bigger in some ways than it was when we were highly visible. It's a different world. It's sort of like the world of the band Phish, you know, and things like that. It's something that's grown into it's own thing. As long as people are there and want to hear it, we'll keep doing it.
CM: Can you attribute that growth to anything or is it just the course of being together for twenty years?
TT: I really have no idea. It just totally surprises me that that has happened. It really surprises me. I couldn't tell you why and I couldn't tell you why a lot of the audience is young now with hair like the band KORN. I couldn't tell you that either, but I sure am glad to see it.
CM: There were a few years that I didn't get a chance to see you what with being in Georgia. Then on the Tape Head tour I went out to Atlanta to see you and, to be honest with you, I figured everyone had forgotten about you. I thought the crowd would be me and a few handfuls of others. Imagine my surprise when I got there and there were lines around the corner and down the block.
TT: That's the way touring has been lately for us.
CM: That album had only been out for a week or two at the most and I remember that you played "Fade" early in the show and everyone was singing a long with every word, which completely blew me away.
TT: As long as the record has a few days before the first show, we can count on everybody singing every word.
CM: You really can't ask for much more than that.
TT: Yeah, what an honor! (laughs) It's such an honor that we still get to do this, you know what I mean and that we still are allowed to is a total honor. And the fact that it's not just a matter of we still get to, but it's actually at a level that's really surprising us.
CM: Right, and that it's continuing to grow completely under the radar of anything is all the better because that seems like that would be the ideal situation for you, because you've got no pressure other than to please yourselves and nothing from any labels putting demands on you and telling you what you have to do.
TT: Right. Yeah, believe me. I pinch myself all the time thinking, you know, this is such a wonderful situation.
CM: So as a band would you say you're happier now than you've ever been?
TT: Well, we're more content than we used to be I think is a better way to put it. I think we used to actually think about sales wishing we had that multi-platinum record and stuff but it's something that doesn't even cross my mind anymore. It's more of just concentrating on the art of it and trying to be an honest artist. Everything else is out of my control anyway. I just do the best I can. After a few years, I quit checking on sales. Like somebody called me today to tell me I was in Guitar Player or something, and I was like "Ah, that's great," but I don't even worry about that kind of stuff or check on it in anyway anymore. It just doesn't even matter to me. The only thing that really matters is when we go out and play doing our best and when we make an album doing our best and I can live with that. I'm so honored to get to keep doing this.
CM: And after all those years, the little guys that used to back up (second tier Christian rocker) Morgan Cryar. Who would've thought?
CM: I was actually dragged to a Petra concert by a girlfriend in South Carolina and saw you with nice blonde hair and Doug in a U2 tour shirt as you piggy back rode him a la AC/DC. That was my original introduction to the band that would become King's X.
TT: (laughs) Well we had actually been together for five years before that. That was a very temporary gig we did to help Morgan out. He hired our band because he was a fan of our band which had already been playing for five years.
CM: Honestly, I just remember thinking that the band was really cool, but I could do without the rest.
CM: And I had no idea until several years later that the guys I heard that night were the guys who were by this point on MTV so that was really bizarre.
TT: Yeah, we were touring with him around '86.
CM: That was November of '85 I believe.
TT: Yeah, '85, '86 and the band got together in 1980 so we'd been around a little while. If people knew the full history of the band, it's hilarious the different things we've gone through (laughs). There was a time we were doing reggae and stuff like that. There was another time that we were doing nothing but three-chord punk like The Foo Fighters do now and that was like '81, '82 that we were doing that kind of stuff.
CM: I can almost see the punk, but the reggae stuff could be really funny.
TT: Yeah. Yeah, some of it's really embarrassing to look back on (laughs). Most of it is from the early days, it's really embarrassing as we were finding our way. It wasn't really until the first King's X album that we settled into realizing who we were as players and translating it. That took seven years as a band to get to where we finally tapped into something that we realized was really us.
CM: And continued to evolve...
TT: We hope so.
CM: Man, there's evolution. I know you're being really humble, but it's clear. Even a passive fan has to see the change and the growth of what's been happening in the band individually and as a group.
TT: Well, it's really weird because I'll feel strongly that an album is really different than the one before and then I'll have a friend call me and say, "Yeah, man, you know, it sounds like King's X." And I'll go, "Really?" I think everybody gets something different from it and that's part of the beauty of it, too.
CM: Well, that just means you have a sound. You know? The Beatles still sounded like The Beatles whether they were doing "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "Lady Madonna."
TT: I guess you're right. That's a good way of putting it. That's a good way to think about it, yeah.
CM: So King's X just has an identifiable sound no matter what you do and that's not a bad thing.
TT: I tell you what, I think that if there's an album that we've done that comes the closest to getting away from that, it's the new one.
CM: For what reason?
TT: It's in stores now. It came out last Tuesday.
CM: Yeah, I would've gone out and gotten it but Kelli (the band's publicist) told me that I had a copy on the way! I'm still waiting, but I'll get it and I'm really excited about hearing it.
TT: I hope you'll like it.
CM: Well, I think I have the same general musical influences and heroes as you and as sure as it's not possible to escape your influences, I'm sure I'll like the record. I've liked them all so far for different reasons.
TT: Cool. Right, I can't get away from (my influences) even if I wanted to.
CM: I've got one other thing I need to hit on with you if it's okay if you've got a second.
TT: Can I get you to hold for just a second? I'll be right back.
CM: That's not a problem, man. Go ahead. (Now imagine the Jeopardy theme for a minute)
TT: Sorry 'bout that. I'm running off a master dub in the CD-R and I had it running while we were talking.
CM: Anyway, here's what I was getting to. I don't really know how to ignore the attacks on America when talking bout things that affect an artist. If you're interested, I'd appreciate you sharing anything whatsoever about your feelings concerning this.
TT: I've got so many feelings on it that you could make a whole article on that alone. I don't even know where to begin, but I think if anything, I'd like to encourage people to think about it this way. The only real weapon terrorists have as far as collapsing our society is invisible. It's the weapon of fear. If we allow fear to cripple ourselves and we don't get on airplanes and we don't support our country and we don't support our economy then we're hurting the situation in a major way. We're shooting ourselves in the foot and although I understand that there's a reason for being afraid for a lot of people, I refuse to be. I've been on four planes since September 11 proudly trying to support my country the same way the soldiers are going over there to give their lives for me and you so that we can go home and sit down and watch TV on Monday night and enjoy ourselves. So the least we can do is join the army and not shoot ourselves in the foot and get on an airplane and do things that you normally would do. Don't let the invisible weapon of fear win. No matter what you do, in getting in an airplane, it's still going to be safer than getting in your car and driving to work. Let's put it into real perspective and get back to life and help our country. We've got people going over there to give their lives for us, so it's the least we can do.
CM: So how did you hear about the whole thing?
TT: I was taking my dog into the vet early one morning so I actually heard it all from the first crash as soon as the first reports came in. I hurried home, turned on the TV and saw it all. I sat there the whole day just watching it.
CM: Did you realize right off what was going on?
TT: Well, by the second plane I realized what was going on. At that point I was just so unbelievably stunned that I didn't know what to think or how to think. I was completely stunned, but then part of me thought, "How has it taken this long to happen?" This could've happened in the '60s very easily and we've been very, very lucky over here. We've been so blessed over here and very lucky and we still are. The truth of the matter is nothing in our infrastructure has changed other than what we've done to ourselves by panicking and we've got to get over that and help our country. It angers me when we start becoming so selfish as to hold on dearly to our funds and all of the people who rushed to the market on Monday and sold off everything they had made me so furious that they were so self-centered to do that. The market didn't have to drop at all. Airlines didn't have to nearly go bankrupt. Those things did not have to happen. Terrorists did not do that to us. We did that to us by reacting to them and we have to get over it and rise above it and be bigger people than that. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot in this situation.
CM: Have you played or been to out to any shows or anything since this happened?
TT: No, and I haven't really been telling people about it outside of this town but we're doing a free show on Sunday to help do our part.
CM: The Monday after it happened, I covered an Aerosmith concert in Atlanta and I've been to a few shows since and the crowds are different now. They seem more appreciative to be there. They seem like they're enjoying themselves more and it seems more of a celebration of not only the lifestyle of this country but personal satisfaction that they're still here and that there's still a chance.
TT: That's exactly what I expected to happen. I really did. I expected this to bring a new appreciation to what we have here. I'm so happy about all of the positive things coming out of it, the feeling that we really are a country. All of those things, I'm so happy about. I had felt the same thing. I told the guys, "All of these other bands are canceling their tours 'cause they don't want to fly. I just have no tolerance for being selfish in this situation when there are people going over across to give their lives for us. I just don't have tolerance for our own selfishness in this situation. We should be contributing to our country and helping, not hurting ourselves, in every way we possibly can by keeping those tours open and getting our butts onstage and being there. I had hoped sincerely that that would be the case that people would start realizing how good we have it and really appreciating those good things in life more and that it could be a very touching celebration type situation.
CM: And the songs even take on new meaning in the current climate. I'm sure there are plenty of songs where you're going to be like, ah.
TT: Oh yeah, that's how it's been for us. We pulled out songs and the meaning behind it now is just amazing.
CM: I'm sure that's the way it was in the late '60's and early '70s and that whole era.
TT: Yeah, you're right. I believe that, too. I felt it then and I haven't felt it since then, really personally.
CM: I wasn't around then to feel it then. So is this kind of what it was like?
TT: Yeah, I definitely agree. I hope it's not just a small, temporary thing 'cause in the '70s it was a whole way of life for a few years. It was really, really amazing. Radio will never...music and radio will never ever ever be the same as it was in the early '70s. What a privilege to have experienced that when it was truly pure and artist motivated and not corporate owned.
CM: I don't even need to tell you, 'cause I'm sure you know, but it's really different now. There are flags waving and even the people that weren't so blatantly jingoistic and wearing "Kill Terrorists" shirts just seemed really happy to be there and really appreciative. I think everybody had gotten so blase and expectant and entitled and I think this refocused everything.
TT: Yeah, I love what I'm seeing from this. There's so much good coming out of it, no doubt.
CM: Well, it's nice for a change when something truly horrific happens and we do pull together to try to make it better. It really does feel that way and I hope that spreads and I hope that follows you guys throughout this tour and keeps you motivated out there.
TT: I think in all areas of life, if you find yourself in the worst situation, you find the best of a person come out. Everything works like that in harmony, day and night, you know what I'm saying? The further it stretches to horrible, the further you see the truly good come out of people. We've seen and been reminded of the real core goodness in people in our country to help and be selfless in a lot of ways and give blood and raise money and all of that and have pride in the honor of being in a country that is about democracy and freedom.
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